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The state Senate Education Committee tweaked the House's school finance bill -- HB 21 -- to add funding for educational savings accounts for students with disabilities. Lubbock Sen. Charles Perry said he will approve it because small, rural schools in his district need other funding the House measure offers. "You could say it's brilliant strategy -- and it is," Perry said. "It's politics at its best or its worst, depending on what side of the equation [you're on]." Perry said the ESAs would open up school choice opportunity for a limited number of families, but that's not the main appeal for the House measure to him; Perry says the $1.6 billion the measure would provide to schools would protect districts affected by the end of the 2006 Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction program in September. view article arw

The Texas House thought it had killed school vouchers. The Senate is resurrecting them.A Senate committee last week attached a plan offering vouchers to special education children while approving a $1.6 billion House proposal to begin overhauling Texas' troubled school finance system. House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty, a Houston Republican, has championed the school finance fix. Now, his counterpart in the Senate, Republican Sen. Larry Taylor of Friendswood, may make Huberty choose between accepting vouchers or sacrificing his legislative baby.Taylor spent months carefully shepherding a separate, sweeping voucher bill through the Senate that the House refused to even consider, instead overwhelmingly passing an amendment saying public funds should stay in public schools. He, and school vouchers' biggest supporter in Texas, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, could now have their revenge. view article arw

Texas makes mess of taxes

May 1607:45 AM
 

Count on the Texas Legislature to come up with a painfully complicated and inefficient way to repeal a painfully complicated and inefficient tax. Lawmakers deserve praise for targeting the Texas Franchise Tax, but their methods are unsound. The franchise tax, also called the margins or business tax, ranks consistently as one of the worst taxes anywhere in the country. It was the convoluted response to the Texas Supreme Court declaring the public school finance system unconstitutional. Lawmakers had to lower property taxes to comply with the court order, so to find replacement funds they rewrote the franchise tax, what businesses pay for the privilege to operate in our great state. view article arw

When Gov. Greg Abbott signed one of his top legislative priorities into law, the key players who shepherded perhaps the most controversial bills through Capitol’s sausage-grinding process were not at his side to receive a commemorative pen or to take part in a photo-opportunity handshake. Neither were the constituency groups and activists who clamored for the clamp-down on so-called sanctuary cities. As for the reporters who had filed the daily dispatches about the protests and side deals that go along with passing divisive legislation, they were at home about to sit down to Sunday dinner. About 20 minutes earlier, they received a cryptic message urging them to log onto the governor’s Facebook page, where the first-term Republican would announce to a video camera that showed a near-empty office that his signature was on Senate Bill 4. view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott has rightly pointed out that if Texas were a country, its economy would rank 10th in the world. Our businesses here in Houston, and across the state, regularly invest in science, technology, engineering and math industries, making us a significant producer of the most sought-after goods and services in the global marketplace. To maintain our position of strength, we must align our education system to our state's employment needs. Maintaining a pre-eminent economy and workforce begins with giving students the skills needed to adapt across multiple jobs and even careers within a lifetime. view article arw

It was unanimous. The Texas Senate voted 31-0 to approve SB 179, legislation that will crack down on online bullying in state schools. SB 179 is, also known as David's Law named for David Molak, a local student who took his own life at just 16 years old. His family says he was tortured by cyberbullies from Alamo Heights High School. view article arw

As the Texas House and Senate prepare to hash out a compromise on the state budget in the coming weeks, their members will have plenty of issues to resolve. The House passed a $209.8 billion budget two weeks ago after nearly 18 hours of debate. This week, the Senate is expected to pass its own version of the budget, which totals $211.4 billion. view article arw

More school finance today as Chairman Aycock starts the House Education Meeting at 8:00 AM.  HB 1759 (notice w/bills)  made public last week is on the agenda today for public testimony.   View meeting read more arw

Dealing with school vouchers

April 0708:35 AM
 

There is a lot to appreciate when certain state legislators advocate giving us a voucher worth thousands of dollars with the freedom to educate our children as we choose. Come to think about it, those are my tax dollars. And, as a parent, I am responsible for my child’s education. Besides, reformers keep telling me public schools are failing and I have the right to enroll my child in a school of my choice.  view article arw